Pope Benedict XVI has called on Catholic lay people to see themselves as "co-responsible" for the Church's life and activity rather than mere "collaborators" or co-operators with the ordained clergy.
"This co-responsibility requires a change in mentality concerning, in particular, the role of the laity in the Church," Pope Benedict wrote in a message to the International Forum of Catholic Action (FIAC).
The Pope says "a mature and committed laity" should be able to "make its own specific contribution to the ecclesial mission with respect for the ministries and tasks that each one has in the life of the Church and always in cordial communion with the bishops".
In his letter Pope Benedict does not explain how this "co-responsibility" is substantially different from assisting in the work of the priests and the bishops.
Above: New students at the Pontifical North American College watch as Pope Benedict XVI leads the Angelus in the courtyard of the papal villa at Castel Gandolfo this week. Photo: CNS/L'Osservatore Romano